We’ve all been there: trying to pronounce chemical names on the back of a shampoo bottle. No surprise one of the longest words in English is the chemical name for the human titin protein.
One of the longest English words has over 180,000 letters. Spelling it would take 57 pages, so we won’t drag it out here. With that said, there are plenty of other big words in the English language. So, we’ve listed some of them using much smaller words in this article.
- The average English word has 4.5 letters.
- Many of the longest words in English are scientific or medical terms.
- Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis has 45 letters.
- Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism has 30 letters.
- Prefixes and compounds can increase word length.
In this article, we’ve compiled some of the longest words for anyone who appreciates the English language. So, prepare yourself because your vocabulary is about to get much bigger—pun intended.
How Long is the Average Word?
Before we discuss big words, let’s start with some basics. The average English word contains 4.5 letters. The longest words in English dictionaries have significantly more letters than that.
Why are Some Words So Long?
We often see a word with lots of letters and wonder what happened. Why would anyone create such a long word? Technically, some word formation rules result in big words. For instance, Long words often contain multiple prefixes or compound terms.
“Great” is a prefix that can significantly alter the length of a word. Genetics aside, you can use “great” as many times as you want for family titles. Make sure to use hyphens in between the “great” prefixes, and not commas.
Compound words can also get long. This is especially true when writers hyphenate adjectives. These words can easily become three- or four-word compounds.
Three-Word Hyphenated Compounds
Four-Word Hyphenated Compounds
You may have seen even longer compounds than these. For example, perhaps you viewed a blink-and-you-missed-it theatrical run.
What’s the Longest English Word?
The longest word in the English language has 189,819 letters. We’d love to share it, but it’s 57 pages long, which means a lot of scrolling! So, the word we’re talking about here refers to a chemical compound called titin. For the uninitiated, titin is a human protein found in our vertebral muscle.
Titin’s official term is 189,819 words because it follows traditional protein-naming guidelines. Proteins’ names are typically derived from their contributing chemicals. Titin has a lengthy chemical list.
Some lexicographers consider titin a verbal formula rather than an official word. Lexicographers are the language experts who help create dictionaries. Traditional dictionaries don’t have room for lengthy words such as the scientific term for titin.
What are Some of the Longest Words in English?
Many big words are scientific or medical terms. Normally, scientists combine several ingredients and traits to form these scientific terms. Meanwhile, medical terms often contain prefixes and suffixes.
Most of us don’t have hours to pronounce the scientific term for titin. However, you can impress your friends with these long words:
1. lopadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimhypotrimmatosilphioparaomelitokatakechymenokichlepikossyphophattoperisteralektryonoptekephalliokigklopeleiolagoiosiraiobaphetraganopterygon (182 letters) – a fictional meal referenced in Assemblywomen, a comedy by Aristophanes.
2. pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (45 letters) – a synonym for silicosis. Silicosis is a lung disease caused by inhaling silica. It’s also the longest word that you’ll find in most well-known dictionaries.
3. supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (34 letters) – a nonsense word featured in Mary Poppins. Admit it: You sang this word rather than read it.
4. pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism (30 letters) – a genetic medical condition similar to pseudohypoparathyroidism.
5. floccinaucinihilipilification (29 letters) – the act of finding something worthless or without value. Finally, a nontechnical word on our list!
6. antidisestablishmentarianism (28 letters) – a political stance that opposes disestablishment. While many people assume antidisestablishmentarianism is the longest word in the English language, it’s not. In fact, it has 12 syllables only.
7. honorificabilitudinitatibus (27 letters) – with honorableness. This is an interesting word because it alternates consonants and vowels.
Ridiculously long words can make for interesting trivia, but, let’s face it, few will benefit from adding these monstrosities to their vocabulary. But if you’re looking for a lengthy word that could net you a world record, try oxyphenbutazone. It’s believed to be the highest-scoring word that can be played in a game of Scrabble (1,458 points on an outside edge).